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2020 Sword Dancer Horse Racing Betting Preview

SI Gambling insider Frankie Taddeo handicaps this weekend’s Sword Dancer Stakes from Saratoga, including the latest odds and his best bets.

The SI Gambling Horse handicapping experts had another great day at the track a few weeks back. In the Travers Stakes, Tiz the Law came through in impressive fashion, helping our team crush the Exacta (8/1) and the Trifecta (36/1) after Caracaro & Max Player both hit the board!

Last month, the team scored in the Blue Grass Stakes hitting the Exacta (12/1), Trifecta (60/1) and Superfecta (443/1). Now, the boys are back with some sharp opinions for this Saturday.

This weekend, racing fans will be treated to an important turf stakes race at Saratoga racetrack. The Sword Dancer Stakes is a qualifier for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Turf as part of the “Win and You’re In” prep race for the marquee race held at Keeneland on November 7.

The $500,000 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) has drawn an ultra competitive field of eight.

Cross Border (3/1) enters off two straight impressive wins and sports a perfect 5-for-5 record at Saratoga. Having one of the leading riders at this summer’s meet in Jose Ortiz certainly adds to his win appeal.

Trainer Michael Maker, who will have three entries here, will send out Aquaphobia (4/1), who has posted eight wins in nine career starts on the turf. He enters fresh off his impressive win last out in United Nations Stakes (G1) back on July 18 at Monmouth Park.

Sadler's Joy (5/2), the morning-line favorite, will be making his fourth career start in the Sword Dancer for trainer Tom Albertrani. He has come in the money in two of his three tries having won the race back in 2017, finished sixth in 2018 with a runner-up finish last year. The son of "Kitten’s Joy" has hit the board in 21 of 31 career races, and that kind of consistency will make him hard to keep off of tickets.

The clear early speed of the race comes in the form of Maker’s Marzo (10/1). Marzo has been working bullets in his morning workouts and is a potential win candidate who will look to steal the race on the front end. Channel Maker (6/1), for Bill Mott, is 0-for-5 in 2020 and although he seems to be improving in his latest races he is hard to back as a win contender with just one win in his last 12 starts. Pedro Cara (10/1) for Graham Motion, is the "wise guy" horse after racing in Qatar at Doha over the winter months. The four-year-old will be making his second US start after posting a respectable second place finish in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park back in 2019.

Who will cross the finish line first? Let’s take a look at the odds and dive deeper into these races.

Sword Dancer Stakes (G1)

Racetrack: Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, New York

Date: Saturday, August 29, 2020

Purse: $500,000

Distance: 1 ½ mile, Turf

Race: 9

Post Time: 5:43 p.m. EST / 2:43 PST

HORSES OF NOTE: Listed by post number, name, and odds

#6 Cross Border (3/1) - One of the trio for Michael Maker earns the top win contender spot. Can not ignore this horse’s love for Saratoga, evidenced by his 5-for-5 record at The Spa. He has been first or second in seven of his last 10 starts and Jose Ortiz will make it eight for 11. Top Choice

#7 Pedro Cara (10/1) - The clear wiseguy horse in the field. With Johnny V in the saddles, I can not pass up the value of 10/1 odds which will most likely float up higher by post time. Eight of ten in the money with one solid career start in the United States back in 2019. Top Longshot

#8 Sadler’s Joy (5/2) - One word: Consistency. He is a must use underneath on all exotic tickets, as he simply can not be left off the bottom rungs. Respect

Sword Dancer Stakes Formula Rankings

  • #6 Cross Border (J: J. Ortiz; T: M. Maker)
  • #7 Pedro Cara (J: J. Velazquez; T: H. Motion)
  • #8 Sadler’s Joy (J: J. Castellano; T: T. Albertrani)
  • #2 Aquaphobia (J: I.Ortiz; T: M. Maker)
  • #5 Corelli (J: J. Rosario; T: J. Thomas)
  • #3 Marzo (J: R. Santana; T: M. Maker)
  • #4 Channel Maker (J: M. Franco; T: W. Mott)
  • #1 Highland Sky (J: J. Alvardo; T: B. Tagg)

Sword Dancer Stakes Betting Breakdown

Frankie Taddeo, SI Gambling & Fantasy Analyst / Vegas Insider (@Frankie_Fantasy)

This is an extremely competitive race that offers great betting potential. My top play is #6 Cross Border (3/1) who I will use over #7 Pedro Cara (10/1) and #8 Sadler’s Joy (5/2). I will be fading #4 Channel Maker(6/1) who simply can not find the winners circle.

TOP Exacta Part-Wheel: 6 /2,7,8 $1 wager: $3

Protective Exacta BOX: 2-6-7-8 $1 wager: $12

TOP Trifecta Part-Wheel: 6 with 2,7,8 with 2,5,7,8 $1 wager: $9

SPREAD Trifecta Part-Wheel: 6,7 with 2,6,7,8 with 2,3,5,7,8 ¢.50 wager: $9

All wagers display ticket cost. All bettors should adjust wager amounts based upon bankroll


Note: If Saratoga is hit with inclement weather due to Hurricane Laura moving over upstate New York on Saturday, this race could be affected and taken off the turf. If the race is taken off the turf, this would benefit #3 Marzo and #1 Highland Sky who appear to have the best “off-track’ potential. Be sure to pay attention to the weather prior to making your wagers.